Hurting San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo will show up and wear the Beermen’s uniform in today’s Game 4 of the ongoing PBA best-of-seven championship series.
However, don’t expect the 6-10 Cebuano center to do a ‘Willis Reed’ to inspire his beleaguered squad in this particular match against Alaska in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Philsports Arena (formerly ULTRA) in Pasig City.
The reigning back-to-back league MVP and leading contender for Best Player of the Conference (BPC) will suit up, according to SMB coach Leo Austria, but will not log in a single minute in the 5 p.m. game opposite the Aces.
“We’re not taking any risk of him hurting his knee again. It’s not swollen anymore, it has subsided (swelling) although there is little pain,” said Austria yesterday after the team’s practice session at the Acropolis gym in Quezon City.
“June Mar dropped by at the gym but did not join the scrimmage. He did well in his rehab. We just cannot take that risk of him playing since he didn’t have any practice the last eight days. At least for Game 4, he won’t play, let’s see if we can extend the series. We’ll take it one game at a time,” added Austria.
Fajardo hurt his left knee in Game 6 of the semifinals against Rain or Shine. Although the MRI test showed no tear on the ACL and PCL, the swelling kept him out of the finals series, which Alaska leads 3-0 and can wrap it up with a win today.
In an interview by The Bulletin last Wednesday, Fajardo said he hopes to play in Game 4.
“He really wants to play. He’s very emotional about it. But I told him that he has a very bright future ahead of him and this is not the only championship, madami pang dadating. But if we can extend the series, we’ll see,” said Austria.
Austria meantime believes the Beermen has not yet played to their maximum potential in the series. Jaded observers seem to agree with his observation, noting that Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter have yet to make a noise in this series.
“I don’t know kung ano ang kulang sa kanila. Maybe they’re missing June Mar. But I’ve told them June Mar is not around so we must believe in ourselves. I think hindi pa sila ganun ka all out,” Austria said.